Sunday, July 5, 2020

ALDI Special Buys - Go hard or go home.

Even though I have been using Aldi laundry products for years, I am a recent Aldi convert. That being, someone who buys product lines from all over the store on a regular basis. A groupie so to speak.  

I have three products very close to my heart. One is the laundry products like DiSan. Two is the eye fillet. Three is their clothing. Think cashmere scarves, Merino tops & more Merino tops.

Today I had my first Special Buys sale where I was there for doors open. 

It was a day with no furniture, no white goods, no electricals & no electronic gadgets. So I figured it couldn't be all that hard. The goods on offer today included outdoor hiking (shoes, Merino thermals, Merino outers, socks, walkie talkies, first aid kit etc). There were also tracksuit-y pieces and puffa jackets & puffa vests. 

My target was the navy short sleeve Merino tee. 

WARNING: I was very familiar with media & social media saying these sales are a nightmare. "Feral people" was how one reader described the customers this morning on the Aldi Facebook page. I was familiar with the queues and the lack of social distancing. And no, it's not all the store's fault. I was familiar with no restrictions on quantities purchased. Why should there be, it's not war time? I was familiar that when someone brings a child or an elderly person with them, they may not be acting in that person's best interests. I was familiar that some of the Special Buys act as loss leaders to bring people into the store to buy other stuff. There is no law against this. I was aware that supply doesn't meet demand especially in furniture, white goods, electricals & electronic gadgets. Think long queues & leaving empty handed.  It is what it is & that's the Aldi business model & if you don't like it, go to Coles or Woolies.  

I think all these issues are just excuses for people including people who didn't get what they came for. Given these issues, I decided to brave the sale anyway & hence not complain when all these things eventuated.

I arrived at 7.45am for an 8.30 start. There were two people there on their phones, sitting on a near by bench. I went & stood at the doors, dead centre. They did not ask me to stand down. So when someone says I was there 20 minutes early & I didn't get my air fryer, I have no tears for them. 

The queue was civilised, people were more or less social distancing. By 8am there were about 20 people. Close to 8.30, there were about 50 people. When the doors opened, no one slipped under the gates, no one ran. But they were walking very fast. 

I noticed two things. The Asian looking population assaulted the puffa area and the Anglo looking population assaulted the hiking clothing & shoes area. Apart from that, it turned into a shambles. 

Within seconds, there were people edge to edge, surrounding the whole Special Buys table perimeter. That's not all. It was 2 people deep. Everywhere. Minimum.

Product was flying in all directions as people were scrambling for their sizes. Lots of people loading up their trolleys but leaving these trolleys along the table edge, so you had to ask them to move it so you could gain access to the hiking widget or whatever. That's rude.

I had no sense that anyone was buying "bulk" to resell. What I noticed was family buying & the mentality of putting heaps in your trolley, then culling/ sorting through it in the grocery section. Then going back to Special Buys to see if you missed anything. This is a round robin of "gather" & "review". 

Listen peeps:

Golden rule 1: The first 3 minutes is your opportunity to grab what you need in a reasonably organised manner. Have a helper & a trolley if the items are physically large. Know what you are interested in. 

You can also flag an SA down before they open (yes, through the glass) & ask them where approx on the table, the hiking widgets are on the table. If the SA says they don't know, ask them to ask someone who does know. Someone on the other side of the glass will know.  

If you are in the gathering phase & you are not sure whether something is suitable, gather it anyway and you can discard it later - if you don't, when you decide you want it, it won't be there. Guaranteed.  

Golden rule 2: The next 27 minutes is take no prisoners BEDLAM. You spend more time trying to access stock & work through the crowds than actually looking at the stock.

If you bother arriving after 8.30, dont bother. Go for coffee or go home & return later in the day. It's not just the crowds; it's the fact that the people who got off their butts & queued EARLY would have been in & gotten what you wanted, ahead of you. 

Most sane people will gather, review, pay & exit. 
The crazy shopping people will gather, review, gather, review, review, review, review, pay & exit. And they will love it. 

Golen rule 3: If in doubt about the quality of life during a sale, go back & read Golden rule 1 and Golden rule 2. It is what it is and complaining about the Aldi business model won't change anything. Go hard or go home. 

My haul: The black Merino thermal top & the Merino navy short sleeved tee. If I could find my size, I would have bought a back up in the tee. Maybe from another store tomorrow....or maybe there will be some returns at my local. 

The photos following are just random snaps taken just after the half hour mark. It had started to quieten down but the stock was a mess.   

PS: The following photo shows the lining on the ladies' puffas.
Which I thought was seriously giving me doubt as to whether I would turn up to one of these sales ever again. If anyone has bought these - it's just as well we have different tastes because that's what makes the world go round. 

Next week: 

On Wednesday there is white furniture on offer and I am sure some people will blame Aldi if they can't furnish their whole home with the stuff. Expect bedlam. 

On Saturday there is more white furniture, some electricals and a washer & a dryer. Expect more bedlam. 

See you at the next Special Buys opening. 


Friday, May 15, 2020

TKMaxx Castle Hill - Show & tell post corona

CASTLE HILL TKMaxx - 2nd day open post corona shut down:

Just some wee musings to complete some photos being posted of life at TKMaxx Castle Hill on the 2nd day of opening after the corona shut own.   

Yesterday, apparently Castle Hill had a crazy manic day. Plus one of their registers wasn't polling, so they couldn't even get their day's results.   

I arrived at 11. A queue of about 15 humans. I forgot to ask for the human limit. Would imagine it's around 180. ??

The queue lady came out & assured us it was about 5 mins. I asked her what time they were closing & she said 5.30pm. Not earlier? Yes, maybe depending on how busy it is & the social distancing issues.

What does that mean? Oh, we have to have a distance b/w us & it also depends on the number of customers.

Yes, but what does that mean?  [I dislike parroting of rote phrases which give you no information of any value]
Getting impatient, I translate it to: So if I come at 4pm, will I be allowed in?
Yes but in a very uncertain in tone.
If I come at 4.30 pm,  will I be allowed in?
It depends, maybe not.
Depends on what? Oh forget it, you realize the web site says the store is open til 5.30pm.

In the store.

First thing I noticed was all the colourful hand bags & the next thing was the colourful puffas. It's a good thing to have colour at the front of a store - it brings people in. 

There was plenty of people but a sense of calm I didn’t pick up yesterday with Hillsdale/TR/Fairfield. Before you remind me it was day 2 and hence quieter, it wasn’t that. They were just organized. The de- security tagging station was in place first up, in the right place, the queue to pay was in the middle of the HOME sections, rife for impulse buys as ppl left their trolleys in the queue & went down each aisle as they moves closer to the POS.  Granted the store is spacious, but their flow was good/logical which makes things easier.

They were the only store I’ve seen where the Final Clearance was right at the back of the store. Poor margins; Let something else with a smaller discount show off toward the front of the store. Not a bad strategy.

I was in the queue to pay for about 30 mins perhaps. There were about 30 ppl in this queue. The queue to pay exceeded from the register area by half of the narrow side of the store & almost a full long side of the store. I don’t think it moved any faster than the other stores so far, but it FELT faster. Frankly, if you can give that feeling to customers, you are doing well. You do it by putting things for them to do along the way. Things like the impulse shopping (nice wide aisles amongst Home goods for both queue & customers walking through) helped to make the queuing more pleasant.

The other thing CH did better than the others was managing to segregate sale goods from full price goods.  As you moved around sale, you didn’t keep finding yourself amongst full price. But you still don’t want to hie the full price stock. When a store is in big clearance mode, the client base tends to be PRICE FOCUSED. They are not interested in full price. When at full price, you get back to the clients who are PPROUCT FOCUSED.  

I also had a sense that they didn’t have as much full price stock as Fairfield & Hillsale but I may be making that up.

They also had considerable empty space in various sections. Expected.  

Even though I was annoyed with my encounter with the door lady, after a few minutes in CH, chill. That’s a credit to the store frankly.

What did I buy?

Well it wouldn’t be a TKM visit without coloured pasta. I brought the uranium & other coloured Italian bows.

The ugliest puffa in the world, DKNY Jeans in blue/khaki on sale.

I bought a Nautica brolly to replace the same I lost recently. Best brolly ever.
The old one was navy with lime trim. This is black with Kermit trim. 

I bought a black cotton casual Italian cardi that looked worn, I mean treated to look worn.
The fabrication tags were at right. Lucky I had a sharp eye & feel to know it's cotton. 

An outdoor pot with blue & white tile exterior which I had admired at full price - on sale.

A European cushion in many Mongolian sheepskin
A smaller rectangle cushion in navy Mongolian sheepskin. Both on sale.

Men’s tan belt for me
Men’s black belt, same for me. Both these are for jeans - sturdy in the two best colours for versatility. The leather is pinched every 10 cm so when the centre back gets contorted, it won't show. Much.  

A DR 2 black polyfester chiffon top – need to make sure this works with a cami. 

A men’s navy fine cord shirt for bumming around. 

A duplicate white Italian linen vest with a bias ruffle on each side.  Dying possibilities here.   

A few random pattered bread/butter plates & bowls from Portugal - on sale.

I'd love to see your finds. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

New TKMaxx at Sydney's North Rocks

Whenever I make a visit to a TKMaxx store, I post a whole bunch of photos on to my blog or recently, onto the group, TKMaxx Fans. 

Frequency is every few days, about 100 photos each time & usually the stores, Castle Hill, then Fairfield, then Top Ryde, then Hillsdale. The only reason Hillsdale is last is because it's so so so far away - it's loot is amazing x 100. 

In the last many months, despite vehement denial on the part of North Rocks Shopping Centre (until they put up the signs), I have been getting excited about the rumours that TKMaxx was coming into the old Coles space. Coles is still there, just in a new spot. 

So now, when I do groceries at Coles, I can pop into TKM, buy one thing from the gourmet food section & a truckload of other non food & legally, the whole haul becomes part of the food budget. That's how it works. It's the law. 

In case you don't read anything I write (lots don't), the following pictures summarise well.  

So today was the opening of the North Rocks TKMaxx store. 
I didn't turn up til early avo, fashionably late, sans free $20 gift voucher.  Ta da! 

Here we are:

Big store, no crazy high shelving, you can see the back super clearly, well lit, well organised. Loads of trolleys & pull along thingeys. 

So here are some random loot shots with random thoughts. 

This was the entry fixture. Given that most girls have more black bags than any other colour, it may be a great idea. 
Me? 95% of my bags are black. Yes, we're no longer in single digits Toto. 

Bear in mind I am a novice. As an ex corporate whatever, & a current stylist, my gift is shopping. What I know is that as a shopper of black bags, black bags are a destination shop. We will sniff them out at the back of the store next to the dock doors if that's where they are. It's because of our GPS. We don't need them at the front of the store. 

I would put colour & pizazz at the front for an opening. Zing. Poof! The coloured bags. Rainbow bags. Anything but black.

I still spent more time with the black bags though, than the coloured ones! 

Blurb about bags:

The TKMaxx bags are legendary in their breadth & depth of bags. They have squillions of Calvin Klein, DKNY and Guess & mountains of other brands like Kate Spade, Valentina, Radley, Falor, Tony Bianco, Gabee, loads of Oroton, Fossil, Status Anxiety & I bought a Sans Beast last week. Other frequent flyers are Louenhide, Billabong, Urban Originals, Cobb & Co & it goes on. Add Tommy, Ted Baker, Peta & Jain, Olga Berg, Morgan & Taylor etc etc. 

They have work bags, weekend bags, overnight bags, backpacks, evening bags, leather, vegan, beach bags
maternity bags etc. 
In case I don't mention it elsewhere, they also have tonnes of luggage, including Samsonites & the big designer brands like DKNY, Calvin etc. 

This is where my heart rate went up. Considerably.

One of the first drops of pure cashmere for AW 2020. 

I live for pure TKM cashmere. 
Back in 2018 when they formally launched in Australia, they brought in bucket loads. I had to help them be successful in Australia. Every piece I still have & love.  

Then in 2019, I bought three Italian pure cashmere throws & I love them more than life itself.  

Next, is where my eyeballs fall out of their sockets. 
The Gold Finds (GF)...

I've written about GF on TKMaxx Fans (FB) and Style into Action (FB). Many times. 

Basically uber designer brands at very good prices. Think Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chloe, Dolce, Givenchy, Prada, Ferragamo, Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, Furla etc. Typically bags, sometimes clothes & shoes, both women's & men's. 

Not all stores are GF. It's a matter of the demographic of a store being interested in the gorgeous beauties. 

I was not expecting North Rocks to be a GF store. See? Another area where I have no clue what I am talking about. 

But there they were. Three Chloe pretties. 

Say hello to the small Pixie. 

This is Faye, the backpack. 

This is Roy the clutch. Notice some of the hardware is silver toned & some is gold toned? This is the way they are. It's a Chloe thing. We like it. 

When a store opens, you are guaranteed rainbows in the wallet area. Here it is. 

Next we have a few general store photos. 

And some specifics; here & there, things which caught my eye..

Everyone needs a llama.

Or a bunny or three. 

The shoe area is terrific. For women's lots of tiny sizes & big sizes.  

Everyone needs a baby llama. 

They carry loot for every part of life - men's women's, kid's, babies', home, bath, kitchen, gourmet food, garden, stationery, tech gadgets, Easter etc. 

Their prices are ridiculously low & they buy worldwide so you get a variety which the others in Syd/Melb etc don't have. 

Their loot is better quality than places like Kmart or Target at prices not much higher. 

There were a few dollies in the centre which I thought were merchandised beautifully in the autumn theme. 

So what does North Rocks think about TK Maxx?

This is exactly what sleepy North Rocks needs. 

I have no doubt it will rejuvenate the centre (which used to be the 2nd smallest Westfield in NSW when it was a Westfield). 

There are a handful of retailers who got out on the front foot & instigated sales for the next few days. Very smart. Also very worried. 

One of these stores hasn't had an everything reduced sale for as long as I can recall, namely since 1981. Nice to see TK Maxx fostering competition. Great for the consumer. 

I also met one of the balloon guys who was thrilled to be tagged. Meet Tiago. 

Here is Tiago's contraption while he is writing his name for me. 

Toilet paper

Finally, no post in March 2020 is complete without a reference to toilet paper. 

In all honesty, at North Rocks, toilet paper has been substituted for those giant red TK Maxx shopping bags. They were everywhere. They were complimentary for the opening.  

Apologies for the blur.

What did I buy?

2 Sheridan white fitted sheets 
A black Calvin Klein denim jacket for my mum

None of the cashmere was perfect this time for my collection. 
The Chloes were too small for my kitchen sink. No surprises the bag I am currently carrying day to day is from TKM.  

For the moment (read: 1 day), I can resist anything else.  

If you're in the area, run, don't walk. 

However, please don't forget the mantra: